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Museveni orders sacking of ‘useless URA staff’ frustrating Investment

Says URA are only pigs that can steal money that has not yet been collected in taxes

TAXMAN | Any official at Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) deemed to be frustrating ‘serious investors’ must leave immediately, President Museveni has said.

In a terse August 14 letter addressed to Finance minister Matia Kasaijja, the president took serious issues with officials he said were frustrating investors by delaying to clear capital by imported by investors.

“Suspend the officers in URA that have been involved in frustrating our good investor Dongsong, by refusing to clear some of his machinery for phosphates and steel processing plant in Tororo worth $650 million. These two factories will employ 2,000 workers,” he said.

The president’s anger stems from reports that capital input being imported by Guangzhou Dongsong Energy Group was being held at the Kenyan Port for Mombasa as URA demanded taxes.

The Chinese investors had contested the taxaction, arguing that they had ventured into minera development and that the law exempts capital machinery for mineral development from such taxes.

Museveni  explained that Dongsong is “such a serious investor” 0who, in addition to steel and fertiliser factory, intend to turn the waste of steel factory into construction block and also wants to import sewing machines for sealing the bags of the fertilisers.

“The useless URA crowd would have nothing of this. A gentleman by the names of Okaka, in different correspondences, maintained that the operations in Sukulu was a mining operations and it did not require air compressors and block makers. Amazing, how can such a person be even a junior officer in URA, let alone acting on behalf of the Commissioner for Customs?” he said.

Geoffrey Okaka is the director for coprorate performance, monitoring and evaluation at URA.

Museveni said the Sukulu Operations was not only about mining but also processing and producing many items out of the mineral; fertilisers, steel, rare earth, construction blocks with plans to venture into sulphuric acid production.

The president, in the same letter copied to vice president, prime minister, Attorney General and Commisioner General of URA, says that URA is supposed to facilitate, assist and expedite that process for the investor.

“Instead, the URA staff either out of ignorance, malice or corruption are tossing our investors endlessly, in this case for the whole of July 2018,” he said.

The president has in the past blamed Ministry of Finance and URA of not doing enough to boost the tax base and domestic revenue collection.

“The only pigs that can steal money which is not yet collected in taxes are the officials of URA and the Ministry of Finance who deliberately cover up areas of possible tax collection and share the money with the possible taxpayers instead of the money developing our country by having a self-sufficient budget,” the angry president wrote in a separate letter last month while responding to issues of social media and mobile money taxes.

“What the broader category of pigs steal or misuse is part of the 14.2% of the tax: GDP ratio that is already collected as Govt revenue.’’

Immediate sacking of URA staff

Museveni said the machinery blocked at Mombasa is incurring demurrage charge.

“Why put such burden on such serious investor? Such staff should not belong to the URA. I therefore direct that all those involved in this scandal must be suspended immediately, starting with Okaka whose signature I saw on a number of documents in this case,” he said.

Anybody whose does not understand the mission of modernising and industrialising Uganda must leave the URA.’’

Once completed, the Sukuru industrial complex will house a phosphate fertiliser plant, a steel mill, a power plant, sulphuric acid factory and a glass making plant. The industrial park is being built on 26.47 square kilometres of land.

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